For many travelers coming from outside of Europe especially, Tallinn might be a relatively unknown destination but you might be surprised that this Estonian capital has history dating back to Medieval Times. Tallinn is a Baltic gem with so much history and endless amount of cool things to see around the city.
I’ve been to Tallinn quite a few times over the past few years. I’ve usually spent most of my time exploring the Old Town but on my last trip to Tallinn, I decided to wander a little further and discover the cool neighborhoods and sites beyond the city walls.
Here is my list of the top 10 exciting things to do in Tallinn.….Which you can easily see in one day – thanks to the short distance between neighborhoods…
1. The Old Town
With its’ history dating back to the 13th century, Tallinn Old Town is the most famous sight of the city. Idyllic buildings, city wall, and cobblestone streets are everything a visitor could wish to see. This part of town is also listed on Unesco’s World Heritage List – just another reason not to miss it!
Wander around the narrow streets, stop by any of its small boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants.
2. Tallinn Town Hall
In the middle of the Old Town you will find the main square with its famous gothic style town hall that dates back to the 14th century.
The Town Hall Square is the perfect place to grab a coffee or a bite to eat while enjoying the views of the town hall and the many architectural gems. During the summer the square is full of several vibrant performances and displays.
3. Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral
One of the architectural highlights of Old Town Tallinn is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral . This orthodox cathedral was built in 1900 when Estonia was still part of the Russian Empire. The cathedral features 13 church bells, beautiful ornaments and orthodox icons.
4. Telliskivi Creative City
If you want to experience something different and unusual, head to Kalamaja district and Telliskivi Creative City.
Telliskivi is built on an old industrial site offering lots of art galleries, photography exhibitions and eclectic markets. This is a great place to experience Tallinn’s alternative side! The area is also known for its great restaurants, breweries and cafes.
5. Balti Jaama Turg
Opened in 2017, Balti Jaama Turg is a marketplace just outside of the city’s main railway station. The market is a great way to mingle with locals and try the region’s best flavors. Besides food, you can find handmade wares, ornaments and a wide selection of locally brewed beer.
6. Patarei Prison
Patarei Prison is one of the most interesting sites in Tallinn. Located a few kilometers from the city centre, this former sea fortress and prison has a dark history that dates back to 1840. Today the site serves as a museum. The exhibition called “Communism is a Prison” lets you dive into the darkest moments of the prison and the horrors faced by its’ inmates.
The exhibition guides you through the complex and provides audio and visual information throughout, making it an eerie experience. Rusty cells, peeling paint, and damp air inside the thick brick walls brings the suffering to life.
I recommend reserving at least a couple of hours to fully to explore the site.
7. The Wooden Houses of Kalamaja
Kalamaja district is known for its beautifully preserved wooden houses. These houses were originally built for laborers that worked in the area when factories were established here in the late 19th century.
8. Kadriorg Palace
Kadriorg Palace is a gorgeous baroque style building which was constructed between 1718 and 1725 for Catherine I of Russia. Today, the complex holds seven different museums including Kadriorg Art Museum.
The palace is surrounded by beautiful 70 hectare Kadriorg Park which is a great place for a walk, bike ride or picnic.
9. Street Art in Tallinn
Tallinn also has some beautiful street art and murals, especially in the districts of Kalamaja and Telliskivi. You can also spot some local artists in action while walking through the Old Town.
10. Vintage shopping and Flea Markets in Tallinn
If you are into vintage shops, Tallinn is a great city to explore vintage styled clothing and bric a brac. Some of the best vintage shops of the city include Sveta Vintage (Kalamaja District) ja MS Vintage (Kalamaja District) ja Kopli Couture (Old Town).
Tallinn’s many flea markets call for real bargain hunters.
Once again Tallinn surprised me with its’ cool sights and new neighborhoods. One of the best things about Tallinn is that everything is very close and within walking distance making it easy to see so much in just one day. We explored the city by foot but there are many transport options including city bikes, tram and other public transport.
Next time I can’t wait to explore more of the city’s restaurants and local breweries!
Have you visited Tallinn? What are your favorite picks for the city? Let me know in comments 🙂
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